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Has Curiosity Made an ‘Earth-Shaking’ Discovery?

20 Nov , 2012

by

This image was taken by Front Hazcam onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 102 (2012-11-18 21:41:54 UTC). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Mars Science Laboratory team has hinted that they might have some big news to share soon. But like good scientists, they are waiting until they verify their results before saying anything definitive. In an interview on NPR today, MSL Principal Investigator John Grotzinger said a recent soil sample test in the SAM instrument (Sample Analysis at Mars) shows something ‘earthshaking.’

“This data is gonna be one for the history books,” he said. “It’s looking really good.”

What could it be?

SAM is designed to investigate the chemical and isotopic composition of the Martian atmosphere and soil. In particular, SAM is looking for organic molecules, which is important in the search for life on Mars. Life as we know it cannot exist without organic molecules; however, they can exist without life. SAM will be able to detect lower concentrations of a wider variety of organic molecules than any other instrument yet sent to Mars.

As many scientists have said, both the presence and the absence of organic molecules would be important science results, as both would provide important information about the environmental conditions of Gale Crater on Mars.

But something ‘Earthshaking’ or “really good” probably wouldn’t be a nil result.

Already, the team has found evidence for huge amounts of flowing water in Gale Crater.

A detailed look at the layers on Aeolis Mons/Mt. Sharp, the central mound inside Gale Crater, the Curiosity rover’s ultimate destination. Credit: NASA/Caltech-JPL/MSSS

If SAM does find organic material, the next step would be to determine the origin and the nature of preservation of the molecules. But the team is going to wait until they verify whatever it is they found.

As NPR’s Joe Palca says in his report, “They have some exciting new results from one of the rover’s instruments. On the one hand, they’d like to tell everybody what they found, but on the other, they have to wait because they want to make sure their results are not just some fluke or error in their instrument.”

The team is being cautious because of their experience with looking for methane in the Martian air. When one of the SAM instruments analyzed an air sample, they got a reading of methane. But, it turned out, they were likely measuring some of the air that was brought along from Florida, as air leaked into the Tunable Laser Spectrometer (TLS) while the spacecraft was awaiting launch. The initial readings from the TLS, full of methane, were very exciting to the Curiosity scientists until they realized it was from Earth.

But NPR reports that Grotzinger says it will take several weeks before he and his team are ready to talk about their latest finding.

In the meantime there will likely be much speculation as everyone is excited about the prospects of life – past or present – on Mars. Either would have astounding implications.



Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Guillermo Alejandro Pussetto
Guest
November 20, 2012 4:20 PM

Can’t wait to know. Hopefully actual or past signs of life.

joseluis7696
Member
joseluis7696
November 20, 2012 5:05 PM

A true surprise would be they find no organics at all, considering the meteorite rain during millions of years

disqus_E2aJDtx1Bg
Guest
disqus_E2aJDtx1Bg
November 20, 2012 10:26 PM

They better have found organics or I’m not going to be happy

Aqua4U
Member
November 20, 2012 5:48 PM

I thought they would release something ‘earth shaking’ in the recent NOVA special? But they didn’t… now this! (Does a little dance) I had a ‘feeling’ earlier that something exciting had happened and now an affirmation! Can’t wait for the details…

See (?) my comment in the earlier UT post entitled(?): Watch: Ultimate Mars Challenge

kerby hyland
Guest
kerby hyland
November 20, 2012 6:08 PM

They found plastic, just like will be found on earth millions of years from now.

Aqua4U
Member
November 20, 2012 6:57 PM

LOL! Yeah.. like that teensy bit of what ever that was, as seen earlier by Curiosity that LOOKED like a piece of plastic WASN’T from the lander.. and instead was something orgainc? HOOT!

Jack J. Smith
Guest
November 21, 2012 12:59 PM

Nah they found a Walmart bag, blowing across the sand

Ned Wreck
Guest
November 20, 2012 6:19 PM

If they had anything they would have told us. They never find anything other than new ways to waste our money

Matt Holden
Guest
November 20, 2012 6:32 PM
Every dollar of space research results in eight dollars of new revenue for the US economy, as well as keeping America on the forefront of scientific research and education, providing critical new technology, and potentially saving our civilization while corporations destroy our planet. The team is double-checking their results before announcing, because they don’t want to be embarrassed by announcing something that turns out to be a false alarm. Because fools like you elect more fools like you to the House of Representatives, NASA needs to ensure its successes are big and public in order to secure future funding; they will announce as soon as it is scientifically prudent to do so. Please educate yourself a little bit… Read more »
tararua
Member
tararua
November 20, 2012 9:40 PM

touché

JohnJubly
Guest
JohnJubly
November 20, 2012 11:59 PM

Why the House of Representatives? Is it because they have a slight Republican majority? When are you Americans going to have your stupid civil war and stfu finally.

donarb
Guest
donarb
November 21, 2012 6:47 AM

Why the House of Representatives? Because that’s where the funding for NASA comes from.

Kevin Pearson
Guest
November 21, 2012 5:09 PM

While I agree that there is benefit, I highly doubt that there is an eight-fold benefit.

There is the Law of Diminishing Returns.

While people may talk about Tang and Teflon, they were both invented long before the Apollo missions, it was only that received a great deal of publicity in the missions so only then did they become household names.

“providing critical new technology, and potentially saving our civilization while corporations destroy our planet”

Sorry, but even for the “space program” all of the critical technology is developed by corporations at the behest of the space program but not BY the space program.

hypernova
Member
hypernova
November 20, 2012 9:48 PM

Really? They NEVER find ANYTHING? Buddy, your ignorance is painful (to me). Stop it.

David Lewis Guirao Tatlitug
Guest
November 21, 2012 12:05 AM
Space research is not a waste of money. We don’t spend enough. Not in our lifetimes but in those to come it will be vital that we be able to move some population to other places to protect the human race and continue its existence. All of the planets out there are there for a reason and maybe that reason is other life. It is vital for us to seek this out. The space program since its inception has only spent a trillion dollars. That for the amount of years is nothing. We should have done so much more. A base should already be on the moon and we should have already go to mars to see if… Read more »
Kevin Pearson
Guest
November 21, 2012 5:10 PM

Law of Diminishing Return. He likely passed that point in the 1970s.

disqus_E2aJDtx1Bg
Guest
disqus_E2aJDtx1Bg
November 20, 2012 10:29 PM

The stupid burns

Kevin Frushour
Guest
November 21, 2012 4:07 AM

Someone peed in your cornflakes this morning, eh?

Donald Kines
Guest
Donald Kines
November 20, 2012 6:20 PM

it’s probably salt. Salt is very exciting. I love salt!!!!!!!!

Dan Johnson
Guest
November 20, 2012 7:21 PM
Salt is only good in moderation. Bad for heart of Earth-based bipedal lifeforms. Maybe good for Martians though. They already know Mars has lots of salt. Gotta be something else. Pepper maybe? Anyway, I would guess if it is really big, it will be leaked in a few days by someone in the agency rather than take weeks as their currently saying. So if it was a definitive sign of past or present life, how would that change the world? Will their be a huge reaction or will it be fairly muted? I’m supposing it will be more muted than we have always anticipated (as in less news headlines/shorter timespan of high viewership than hurricane Sandy for example).… Read more »
Kevin Frushour
Guest
November 21, 2012 4:11 AM

“Salt is only good in moderation. Bad for heart of Earth-based bipedal lifeforms. ”

Personally I haven’t given up salt, just the shaker. I’m more than happy to eat already-salty things, I just won’t shake more on. I love salt, but my mother salts her pizza and I don’t want to get to that point.

JonHanford
Guest
JonHanford
November 20, 2012 7:22 PM

Are you related to Nancy Crater, the “salt vampire” on Star Trek TOS?: http://startrekspace.blogspot.com/2012/10/star-trek-salt-vampire-monster.html

Longbow
Member
Longbow
November 21, 2012 2:39 PM

Salt is good on a BLT!!!! and BACON!!!!!

Jason Watkins
Guest
November 21, 2012 4:03 PM

The best is Redmond “Real Salt”, btw. Far and away the best.

Maurizio Morabito
Guest
November 20, 2012 6:23 PM

They cannot tell us yet…will have to wait for the BBC to verify the little aliens won’t say anything rude!

Greg Trout
Guest
November 20, 2012 6:40 PM

Damn, I am curious. I hope this isn’t a letdown, because “earth-shaking” implies it’s something that will raise everyone’s attention, not just us nerds.

John
Guest
John
November 20, 2012 6:48 PM

Twinkies !!!

Paul Jamieson
Guest
Paul Jamieson
November 21, 2012 12:55 AM

No wait … they found Waldo, or maybe my x-mother-in-law …

Jack J. Smith
Guest
November 21, 2012 1:00 PM

Hoffa!

Matt Powers
Guest
Matt Powers
November 21, 2012 4:24 PM

LOL!!!! Maybe it is Hoffa hording Twinkies? Darn Teamsters wink smile smile

Steve
Guest
Steve
November 20, 2012 6:52 PM

Big foot!!!

Ron Willison
Guest
November 20, 2012 6:56 PM

I’m thinking a MacDonald’s hamburger wrapper. Or some green cheese.

Ron Willison
Guest
November 20, 2012 7:00 PM

High probability the soil samples will prove or disprove the notion that the moon is a direct result of a cosmic crash between the Earth and Mars or something like that.

Sanjay Wilson
Guest
Sanjay Wilson
November 20, 2012 9:19 PM

Wow just realized that I never wondered where the moon came from.

hypernova
Member
hypernova
November 20, 2012 9:42 PM

Mars never colided with Earth. If it did, Mars wouldn’t exist anymore.

Kevin Frushour
Guest
November 21, 2012 1:02 AM

The theory you are referring to says a Mars-sized planet struck early Earth, but does not mean Mars itself.

Raimo Kangasniemi
Guest
Raimo Kangasniemi
November 20, 2012 7:07 PM

If announcing the results really takes “weeks” I would have preferred them keeping silent until then. It’s (a very mild) form of torture they are inflicting upon us by making hints and forcing us to wait. wink

newyorklogic
Guest
newyorklogic
November 20, 2012 9:16 PM

It is rude and unprofessional, and smells of arrogance. NASA thinks this is their data, but it belongs to the people.

Jelqathan Shu
Guest
Jelqathan Shu
November 21, 2012 3:33 AM

Unprofessional? Would you rather they just release their data before they have had a chance to rigorously check it to make sure it is correct? NASA isn’t in the business of caring about your feelings, they’re scientists.

gr81
Member
gr81
November 21, 2012 5:44 AM

I see NASA’s folks as PSEUDO-scientists as they persist in publishing theory as fact. For a real scientific view of this and the rest of the Cosmos, please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_T6__JDeyw

jeffersonian_nc
Guest
jeffersonian_nc
November 21, 2012 1:21 PM

I think you misunderstand the defintion of theory. It is not a proof, it is a collection of hypothesis that may explain an event. If it is proven incorrect, then the theory is adjusted or even scraped. Scientists do not pretend to state theory as fact – but common people and politicians do.

xanderdyson
Guest
xanderdyson
November 21, 2012 1:29 PM

Don’t bother. The ‘electric universe’ is just another sneaky little front group for the creationist loons.

Jason Watkins
Guest
November 21, 2012 2:53 PM

I can assure you that the Talbot, Thornhill et al, are at least agnostics, if not atheists. You have no idea what you are talking about. The electric universe theory is revolutionary, and is gaining momentum daily. http://www.thunderbolts.info

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
November 21, 2012 5:56 PM

No, you are deluded or trying to delude. There are exactly 0 papers in peer reviewed cosmology that derives from EU theory.

pappadave
Guest
pappadave
November 21, 2012 2:34 PM

Actually, not so. We have dozens of “climatologists” who claim that they know what our climate is going to be like 50-100 years hence…when their “model” for climate change couldn’t even accurately “predict” what has already happened to climate over the PAST 100 years.

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
November 21, 2012 5:58 PM

That is well before the current climate regime anthropic forcing became dominant. But as it so happens, the models are accurate because they don’t depend on the type of forcing.

See IPCC -7 for a review of all the relevant science and its accuracy.

jeffersonian_nc
Guest
jeffersonian_nc
November 22, 2012 12:55 PM

True, except that I do not believe that climatologists fall under a “hard science”. They really are more of an artist that thinks they are a scientist. smile

xanderdyson
Guest
xanderdyson
November 21, 2012 1:28 PM

OH THE IRONY! Thanks for wasting my time with your pseudo-scientific creationist mumbo jumbo.

AugustineThomas
Guest
AugustineThomas
November 21, 2012 1:51 PM

I bet you’re far more full of nonsense than a creationist if you’re anything like all the other little atheist man boy kooks who think not believing in God means they know something about science.
(Hate to break it to you, but the average regular church attendee is more scientifically literate than the average secularist, who is addicted to sex and drugs. But keep believing your vain fantasies, like how you believe that you just POOF! appeared from thin air, being the self creating man god that you are, who came to earth with all the theists for some reason..)

xanderdyson
Guest
xanderdyson
November 21, 2012 2:24 PM

Interesting. You’re named after a theologian who masqueraded as a philosopher.

Longbow
Member
Longbow
November 21, 2012 2:31 PM

Are you for real?

MetamorphosisCatalyst
Guest
MetamorphosisCatalyst
November 21, 2012 2:35 PM

Dude, you sound like a grade-A a**hole. Thanks for breaking to me, as I am an atheist, that I am also “addicted to sex and drugs.” I should get that looked at.
Ever consider the possibility that YOU are “addicted to religion” in an attempt to soothe your fear and pain re: death?

Eric Larson
Guest
November 21, 2012 5:25 PM

Clearly a troll ha!

Billy Butch
Guest
Billy Butch
November 21, 2012 1:47 PM

Yes, YouTube. The bastion of scientific fact. Downvote for you sir.

Omeca Kelly
Guest
Omeca Kelly
November 21, 2012 2:09 PM

I don’t think you understand the difference between a fact and a theory. gravity, viruses, and the earth revolving around the sun are all theroies. A theory is the highest level an idea can obtain – facts are within theorys, as well as laws. Sorry for the typos. Have a great day!

MRM_The_First
Guest
MRM_The_First
November 21, 2012 2:19 PM

Really… The earth revolving around the sun is just a theory??? Time for you to go back to school. Pick a better one than wherever you failed at last time.

Charles French
Guest
Charles French
November 21, 2012 4:56 PM

Seriously electrical discharge? I’m no scientist but damn that would have to be one hell of a discharge to remove 5 miles off the of the northern hemisphere of Mars .

patriot6280
Guest
patriot6280
November 21, 2012 2:19 PM

I think the point here is, hold off on announcements until you have something to announce. It’s kind of like saying (in a sing-songy na na na na na na voice) “I have a secret, but I’m not gonna tell ya!” If you can’t tell me now, you shouldn’t have said anything until you could.

Raimo Kangasniemi
Guest
Raimo Kangasniemi
November 21, 2012 2:55 PM

I believe now that they just intended to give something extra for the NPR reporter, not thinking it would get this much notice, but then NPR made the tidbit given to them the main part of the article. From a snowball of information to an avalanche of guessing.

JP
Guest
JP
November 21, 2012 2:32 PM

Just like the Whitehouse, I would like them to shut the hell up until they are certain.

You may recall various WH people adamantly blaming a video for Benghazi. Now that that has proven untrue they have tried to say the intel was fuzzy and that is why they didn’t blame terrorism. I call BS – someone lied deliberately because they DID blame the video instead of simply saying “it’s fuzzy but we’re throwing 100% of our resources at it to find out what happened”.

If you don’t know, just say you don’t know. In NASA’s case, don’t say anything. Why is this hard to understand?

Darin Warren
Guest
November 21, 2012 1:11 PM

NASA needs to run the DATA through their muslim outreach committee 1st. At that point, the DATA will be released, or beheaded.

Longbow
Member
Longbow
November 21, 2012 9:29 AM

Rich says that comment was awesome!!!!!!

John Gersper
Guest
John Gersper
November 21, 2012 2:17 PM

Like..

Sheila Carrigan
Guest
November 21, 2012 1:41 PM

Come on man, these people are NOT the MSM or the president and they want to make sure that the info they hand out is correct!!

Billy Butch
Guest
Billy Butch
November 21, 2012 1:46 PM

Wow. Calm down there newyorkillogic.

EATitCNN
Guest
EATitCNN
November 21, 2012 1:47 PM

Oh jeez just stuff it already.
Smells of arrogance?? You must be a real jerk. I’m sure you’re a very unhappy person and scare your partners off regularly.

Sonny Bell
Guest
November 21, 2012 2:32 PM
There is an Aroma attached to this release, but not of arrogance, but of Global Warming Politics, whereas the data that comes in does not get immediately released, but has to be massaged by a committee of left-wing ideologues first. Just release the raw data as it comes in and let the chips fall where they may. There is nothing more dubious than information released by Propagandists who try to persuade the gullible into believing the party line, which hurts true science in the Long run. It’s as if they think we are all stupid and that when they tell us that 2 + 2 = 22, that we will just Goosestep right along with them instead of… Read more »
jjb
Member
jjb
November 21, 2012 4:35 PM

It’s “news” dude. Wow, do you really not understand “baiting” for attention and such? Plus they have learned to ‘double check’ their work … for obvious reasons.

Billy Brantingham
Guest
November 21, 2012 5:07 PM

I see New York logic ain’t what it’s cracked up to be.

Alan Maris
Guest
November 21, 2012 12:09 PM

hah, remember last time they had a HUGE announcement to make? It caused such a stir that I thought they found E.T. ; then it seems that they found a black hole some millions light years from us. Look, I am just a simple guy and unless they found something that will physically affect me in 30 min or so they should probably not make such a fuss.

OMG!!! WE FOUND A EFFING BLACK HOLE!!!! 100000000 LY AWAY!. Wow.. smile)

EATitCNN
Guest
EATitCNN
November 21, 2012 1:45 PM

Why– is your attention span only 30 mins long?
You must be an Obama supporter.
NOW! GIMME! ME!

jjb
Member
jjb
November 21, 2012 4:34 PM

I agree with John G. – Good response. I guess he would not want to know his wife is pregnant until the actual delivery day, because 9 months is just too long to wait?

John Gersper
Guest
John Gersper
November 21, 2012 2:16 PM

Great response

Charles French
Guest
Charles French
November 21, 2012 7:53 PM

Yes a most brilliant response from a bitter Romney supporter

Will
Guest
Will
November 22, 2012 5:19 AM

Yeah and they only found a tiny microorganism that depends on arsenic for life. They call it we are not alone. C’mon, maybe they found just a tiny liquid in Mars.

Robert Schultz
Guest
November 21, 2012 2:19 PM

More of that control freak syndrome all too common to many scientists?

Raimo Kangasniemi
Guest
Raimo Kangasniemi
November 21, 2012 2:59 PM

Problem in recent times have been that some scientists have been too eager to come in public before getting the data published in a peer approved review, having press conferences before the study is out. This have caused some backlash from other scientists, and some scientists are trying to be a bit more careful now.

The arsenic life debacle probably makes NASA more careful now not to make announcements before it is fully certain that the results can stand scrutiny from other scientists.

Keatah
Member
Keatah
December 4, 2012 12:32 AM

Scientists should keep their traps shut till they know something for certain. Earth shattering, history book making.. A load of manure if you ask me.

Tomas Cruz
Guest
November 21, 2012 2:21 PM

It’s the skull of a rodent.

Kevin Frushour
Guest
November 22, 2012 3:01 PM

Oh, good. I was looking for that thing.

PilotDave
Guest
PilotDave
November 21, 2012 5:31 PM

“No Bucks, No Buck Rogers” They are simply trying to survive budget cuts (and keep their jobs)… any marketing firm would have them do this enticement thing.

Robert B Gould
Guest
November 20, 2012 7:10 PM

Wouldn’t that be a Mars-Shaking discovery?

Ben Donald
Guest
November 20, 2012 10:14 PM

no

Kevin Frushour
Guest
November 21, 2012 9:36 AM

The humor end of my brain: Zing! Good one!
at the same time…
The analytical end of my brain: “Earth” is a general English term for soil, and will probably be used as such when we move to other planets. Hence the general population will probably call the earthquakes and not quibble on terminology when the ground is shaking and getting into a doorway is a more prudent course of action.

AugustineThomas
Guest
AugustineThomas
November 21, 2012 1:57 PM
Well maybe you should work on the grammatical part of your brain. (This is a common problem, science dorks thinking they know everything about everything because the power of science is in vogue right now and people let them for some reason, probably out of apathy and stupidity.) In fact, if you capsulize ‘earth’ it refers to this planet. ‘Earth’ is the proper name of our planet. You can dig earth or unearth something on Earth. (Aspiring scientists really need to work on being more wise and less pedantic. Think about all the things they don’t teach you in science class and, as humans, how ignorant we all are. The great scientific discoveries were made by patience and… Read more »
Eric Larson
Guest
November 21, 2012 5:22 PM

I’m loving that you’ve clearly come here with the intention of trying to talk down to people. I would put money down to say you didn’t even read the article. You do know that’s what youtube is for yes?

AugustineThomas
Guest
AugustineThomas
November 22, 2012 7:47 PM

That was so hilarious. You should be a comedian.

Jerry Jennings
Guest
November 22, 2012 3:32 PM

Do you mean that if the Wright brothers had not capsulized Airplane we would not be flying today

AugustineThomas
Guest
AugustineThomas
November 22, 2012 7:44 PM

Typing on an Ipad…you’re still a pedantic shmuck who made a mistake while he was criticizing someone else.

I was just giving you a taste of your own medicine. I know I’m an idiot and I’m proud of it! (Even though it’s my Ipad’s fault and I’m sticking to my story! I mean seriously I really thought “capsulize” was the word for using a capital letter.)

plus grammar dude
Guest
plus grammar dude
November 22, 2012 1:02 PM

If I were to capsulize E I would be making a summary of e, if I were to capitalize e I would get an upper case E. Don’t be a derogatory dick if you can’t even use your own language properly. I seriously don’t know what you mean by capsulize earth. Are you writing a summary on earth for a fouth grade test or what?

Joel A. Edge
Guest
Joel A. Edge
November 21, 2012 1:49 PM

Only if someone was there to appreciate it.

Alex
Guest
Alex
November 20, 2012 7:32 PM

Omg I bet they found bacon!

Kevin Frushour
Guest
November 20, 2012 8:17 PM

Dude. If they found bacon on Mars, our space program funding problems are over.

Longbow
Member
Longbow
November 21, 2012 2:33 PM

Bacon? My wife would love a BLT!!!! I am moving to Mars!!!!!!

Robbery
Guest
November 20, 2012 7:37 PM

Maybe it’s Jimmy Hoffa. Sorry I had to. I’m all worked up over this, but the “could take several weeks” part is going to kill me.

newyorklogic
Guest
newyorklogic
November 20, 2012 9:19 PM

It isn’t like we can’t handle an early release of the data and a caution that it must be confirmed. There is no reason not to release this now.

Dav_Daddy
Member
November 21, 2012 8:51 AM

Yeah and watch when the next day this unconformed major discovery is on the front page of every major news paper and talk show in the nation.

Then when they find their error
1. The public is pissed
2. They all look like fools
3. They wind up with a big ole funding cut

I cant count how many times ppl here have beat NASA up for the way they do PR. Now they try to build a little drama & anticipation everyone takes issue?

Sheesh

Mpj Marsphotojournal
Guest
November 20, 2012 7:40 PM

Sounds like Dr. Levin will have his day soon one way or the other.

“Earth shaking” on Mars would be the discovery of soil organics which would make the Viking (GCMS) none-detection of organics a false negative and would increase the odds of a true positive for life (Viking LR) by magnitudes. ..Or they found the mysterious planet wide super-oxidant which was/is used to explain away the Viking biology results without actual proof of it existing on Mars to this date.

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
November 20, 2012 8:51 PM
Both the Vikings found observations predicted by having life (local diurnal chemical imbalances) and predicted by not having life (no organics). The “super-oxidant” hypothesis was not used to “explain away” results, you can’t do that with tests. It was a parsimonious hypothesis predicting the results out of known constraints: – There were local mechanisms producing oxidants, UV under the thin atmosphere. Indeed, Phoenix found precisely the type of heat and/or wet activated oxidant (perchlorates) that would predict the result, in combination with the diurnal temperature swing of the Vikings. – There were indigenous potential sources of oxidants. The Vikings were prepared with cleans that could leave oxidant traces. I don’t think anyone ever has claimed the type of… Read more »
Mpj Marsphotojournal
Guest
November 20, 2012 9:39 PM
Dont make things more complicated than necessary! The Viking LR data was and still is fully consistent with the presence of microbial life on Mars. The thing which made the results inconclusive was the failure of the Viking GCMS to detect organics in the soil which made them think: no organics, no microbes. So they thought there must be some substance/chemical in the soil of both Viking landing sites (almost same positive LR results) which mimics the LR and to certain extents the other biology experiments too -> super-oxidants. Now almost 40 years later we found no evidence of super-oxidants except small quantities of perchlorates in Martian arctic soil – which cannot replicate the full suite of LR… Read more »
Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
November 21, 2012 4:01 PM

Yes, we agree on the science. The full Viking experiments will never be consistent with life or organics, as I noted and as you admit. It is only oxidants that can predict the full set of observations.

They are predicted by the environment and, by the above, unambiguously observed, as far as the observations go, by the Vikings. (And similar processes are also unambiguously observed by Phoenix.)

That is why the MSL results will never go towards resolving the Viking experiments.

Mpj Marsphotojournal
Guest
November 21, 2012 7:46 PM
To make things even shorter: the full flight data of the Viking LR experiment CANNOT be replicated by known (on Mars) inorganic chemicals (eg. oxidants) but are fully consistent with the presence of microbial life in the soil at both Viking landing sites. Remember the Viking biology tests were not one single experiment but 3 different stand alone/NONE INTERLINKED life detection tests. As already mentioned – the problem of Viking was the failure to detect organics with its early version of the MSL SAM system (Viking GC/MS) which made the life detection results a mystery for the involved scientists so they went the easy path and announced no organics=no life (…just forget the life detection results). If MSL… Read more »
Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
November 23, 2012 6:44 PM

To concentrate on one experiment doesn’t make things shorter, it makes it incomplete.

It is my understanding that oxidants can predict all of the experiments.

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
November 20, 2012 8:36 PM
Considering the sample location and its history, it is very difficult to predict what they have found. They are sampling in an ancient stream bed going back to the early days of Mars when organics were produced and sedimented under a thick atmosphere. (Nothing much could have stopped that from happening.) So that is good. Then the Gale crater were filled with aeolian sediments. As it happened well before the atmosphere was thinned, we are still good. And now aeolian erosion has excavated down to the stream bed again. So they are good. The problem is that the soil taken is mostly aeolian deposit from elsewhere. It can be an organics signal, but seeing how little material should… Read more »
Bobr
Member
Bobr
November 20, 2012 11:21 PM
I’m guessing it will have to be something a good deal more profound than simply some further evidence of someone’s previous hypothesis, or of an interest to only a select section of the scientist observers. “Earthshaking” is a term NASA has never used before, to my knowledge. Something unique, should be a justifiable use of the term. If it’s layer of a material similar to algae, or a layer of suspected bacteria as has been found in our own deserts, that would qualify for “earthshaking”, to me. I agree with the others being po’d at the unfair teaser, but this must be an indicator of how excited they are. Sensationalistic media would run wild and irresponsibly with any… Read more »
Ethan Walker
Guest
Ethan Walker
November 21, 2012 4:31 AM
Remember that scientist’s idea of exciting quite offen differs from the public at large. There was a similar incident during the phoenix mission where NASA let the media know that they were going to be releasing big news ahead of time, -it turned out to be the existence of perchlorates, when many were expecting evidence of life. It’s also important to put this in the context of the experiment that was being done. SAM cannot discover algae, bacteria, or microorganisms. It will say something about the chemical composition of the soil. Something that will probably very exciting to a select group of scientists, interesting to a larger group of the science-curious public, and boooring to everyone else.
Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
November 21, 2012 4:19 PM

This.

By the way, Curiosity could possibly detect “desert varnish”, which builds rapidly around stream beds and recently has been associated with bacterial growth.

However, that would have been when digging into a rock sample. In a wind drift soil sample, not so easily seen.

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
November 21, 2012 4:15 PM

I fully admit that the social side of this points to something like you describe. I just can’t find it likely.

Which of course is consistent with “earthshaking”.

Also, as the article is worded, it is entirely consistent that it is Palca that injects “earthshaking” into the article. Finding fresh volcanism, or some other identifiable but exciting global process, would go into the history books.

Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
November 21, 2012 4:08 AM

My suspicion is that it is organic chemicals have been found. The fact that it would be transient if brought in from elsewhere, say borne on the wind, would suggest active biology. Active volcanic activity is of course interesting, but I am not sure it is “Earth shaking.”

LC

Billy Brantingham
Guest
November 21, 2012 5:09 PM

Naw, they found Warren Spector’s pocket watch. #martiandreams #spacecannon

Anthony Giallourakis
Guest
Anthony Giallourakis
November 20, 2012 8:49 PM

They found fossilized shell, perhaps?

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
November 20, 2012 9:00 PM

Actually, that would work. But it is unlikely that an early biosphere produced multicellulars.

However, today’s unicellulars can produce shells that are quite massive. Of course, it is modern eukaryotes, but points at a possibility.

More likely, if we entertain the notion that some of the stream bed particles have entered the aeolian soil sample, is that there is some type of carbonaceous encrustation that bacteria has produced under eons. They could trap organics too.

However, see my previous comment. At a guess, it would be little such material. That is a _guess_ though, so … not my guess, but … yeah.

bfmorris
Member
bfmorris
November 21, 2012 2:06 AM

I like the calcium carbonate guess.perhaps it would present as limestone.

renoor
Member
renoor
November 21, 2012 7:50 AM

IF there ever was life on Mars, it would do everything to survive worsening conditions leading to its extinction. So a shell seems to be logical step in protection from environment.

john
Guest
john
November 20, 2012 4:00 PM

they have found a lot more than we know about. however NASA provides jobs for many people so they can not give the human population all the info at once. They have a schedule and budget that goes many years out and funding and jobs would be lost in the science community if they gave all the answers at once. its bureaucratic just like everything else on this annoying pebble you call earth.

wpDiscuz